TALKIN’ 80 YEAR OLD VICTORIA AMALGAMATION BLUES AT THE OLD ST. ANDREW’S KIRK HALL: True homeless people in short supply at ‘Homelessness’ All Candidates’ Meeting









By the time I got to the All Candidates meeting at the Saint Andrew’s Kirk Hall, talk about the actual advertised subject or theme of the evening must have been all but completely exhausted, as they were actually going through each Councillor Candidate’s opinion on the 80 year old conundrum of amalgamation, which Candidate Barry Hobbis called ‘a pipe dream’ that he would support in theory, but which he didn’t think would ever materialize.

It’s too bad that Barry’s cynicism wasn’t countered by Candidate Susan Woods who was not able to attend th.

Earlier this afternoon, on CFAX 1070 Radio, Susan Woods had proved herself to be quite a creative thinker on this fascinating subject.

Susan Woods would divvy up the CRD into three parts, Esquimalt-Victoria-Oak Bay (call it Victoria), Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Highlands, Sooke, View Royal, etc. (let’s call it Pacifica) and all the rest from Saanich all the way up to Sidney (let’s just call it Saanich and be done with it).

Salt Spring Island would presumably be its own entity under this scenario.

The east-west road system is already in place for the new southern horizontal rectangle called Victoria, the north-south configuration of the city of Saanich would basically be another rectangle, this time arranged vertically on the map, hitting Victoria at the perpendicular, so to speak, and then the new city of Pacifica, with Langford likely the main centre, would be a kind of crescent wrapped around the western flank of Victoria.

This idea is not hers only, as others are advancing it, but might be more practical than expecting all thirteen of these laughable squabbling fiefdoms to pay obeysance to City Hall on Doulas Street.

I support amalgamation in theory also, but unlike Barry Hobbis, I don’t think it is a pipe dream, but amalgamation is one of a number of governance models that should be weighed and examined from all aspects by an informed citizenry before any final democratic decisions are made on the matter by the people.

Amalgamation should not be imposed in a draconian manner on an unwilling local populace by the Liberals or any other provincial party, as apparently happened in Calgary by fiat from Edmonton and in Montreal, suivant les ordres du gouvernement du Quebec.

Steve Filipovic was completely opposed to the application of amalgamation, as was George Sirk, citing his experience, as he often does, on Cortez Island, where he says that the 1,000 odd people living on the island in the Comos Region appreciated being represented on their board or council by someone they knew and worked with in the tight-knit community.

Most echoed Filipovic’s concerns that democracy at the local level is often lost in the centralized model of an amalgamated mega-city.

Pedro Mora referred, as did Paul Brown, I believe, to the forced amalgamations of Toronto and Montreal and possibly someday in Vancouver, comparing them in terms of costs and damage to democracy.

So, the two most basic issues to think about whenever this discussion comes up seems to be: will it cost more to amalgamate, or less?

Does amalgamation enhance or reduce democracy at the local level?

For virtual worshippers of the Goddess of Direct Democracy, like Mr. Mora, it seems no cost is too high when it comes to having people’s democratic power enhanced at the local level. 

Rose Henry is in favour of amalgamation because she thinks it will be cheaper, but like most Candidates, has concerns about democracy being reduced.

If amalgamation costs more than the present balkanized nineteenth century municipal boundaries, and we still want it anyway, which seemed to be the position advocated by Marianne Alto and Pedro Mora, that is nothing more than typical socialist indifference to the bottom line, which seems standard practice for these people with little common fiscal sense.

In Marianne Alto’s amalgamation scenario, it seems everything about it is easy, as long as one doesn’t worry too much about the books.

Echoing that, Senor Mora said a society has to decide whether it wants to worry so much about money that it would deprive itself of desired services and amenities, basically a kind of ‘who cares about money as long as we get stuff built that we want right now’ kind of argument.

Rimas Tumasonis, who wasn’t at the meeting when I was inside, often affects this type of ‘what, me worry?’ attitude of feigned indifference to never-ending tax hikes, saying he actually likes the brand new expensive concrete sidewalks like the one recently poured on the north side of the Ross Bay Cemetary, for example.

For amalgamation to be of any use to us to consider, the discourse on it, therefor, must be framed to reduce inefficiencies of service delivery, reduce costs, taxes, fees and waste of  labour and materials, and most importantly, enhance democracy in the neighbourhoods, otherwise there is no point in changing the status quo, as far as I can tell.

This is why Steve Filipovic emphasizes his somewhat utopian idea of empowering the neighbourhood associations by turning them into what he calls ‘democracy centres,’ where local decision-making would be made on a weekly basis.

This idea of empowering the neighbourhood associations is fine in theory, and it was actually advocated by one of our own Concerned Citizens’ Coalition Candidates during the last election, Patrick Jamieson.

The difficulty lies in determining which neighbourhood association is the right and legitimate one to fund  with public money in the case of neighbourhoods such as Fernwood and Rockland where there seem to be at least a couple of so-called neighbourhood associations in each of these neighbourhoods who seem to compete with each other for City of Victoria funding for their activities, if I’m not mistaken.

This brings up the touchy issue of Mayor Dean Fortin’s previous association with the Burnside Gorge Community Association and that group’s construction of a big, new, expensive concrete building at the end of a street near Cecilia Ravine, and which some in the community say should never have been used in the last election as a polling station, as it was well known in the community that Mr. Fortin had finessed the cash to get it directed to the Burnside Gorge Association, many millions of dollars of it, actually, to get this building built, and that by having the election polling station in that building, Dean and his friends Pamela and Lynn enjoyed an unfair advantage on election night.

Mr. Woodland at City Hall once again made his excuses about being able to exercise his discretion in these matters, saying, in effect, that it is not as easy to find an appropriate building to make into a temporary polling station as one might think, yada, yada….

In any case, amalgamation is only tenuously associated with the more topical tragic issue of homelessness, except when local aspiring politicians want to whip Saanich or Oak Bay for our  increasing policing costs for their spoiled addicted suburban kids who come downtown, become street people messed up on the hard stuff, leave a big bill and a huge daily mess, and we  always end up paying, and paying and paying to clean it all up…

Homelessness really is a local issue wherever it is found, and cop-outs, finger-pointing and a disgusting lack of what Paul Brown would call ‘due diligence’ allows our Victoria politicians to get complacent about its supposed intractability, meanwhile displaying an offensive attitude of entitlement to their own privileges, basically the standard bureaucratic attitude, which allows them to ‘live compassionately with the less fortunate in our beautiful community,’ while dispensing needles, condoms, crack pipes and other accoutrements of the Death Culture to them, apparently indifferent to or perhaps ignorant of the sad consequences of such stupid enabling.


On that sombre note, I must report that in my investigations into this so-called ‘harm reduction’ monkey business, both Pedro Mora and Rose Henry have admitted that they support the concept.

Mr. Mora did that in a comment to a posting I set up on the matter here at the GPMH blogsite, expressly designed to invite polite online debate and comment on the issue, particularly from the Candidates themselves.

I appreciate Mr. Mora’s kind words expressed about my late brother Jerome Henry Hartnell, but cannot ever, of course, do what he does, which is to endorse so-called ‘harm reduction’. 

In his comments, Senor Mora provided a couple of links to articles on the issue, but I haven’t read them yet.

Outside, after the meeting was over, I excused myself before asking Rose Henry if she supported ‘harm reduction,’ and sadly, she said, ‘Yes I do.’

So that leaves only one Councillor Candidate left whose position on that particular issue is as yet unkown to me: Paul Brown.

I may have to phone Mr. Brown to get the info from him, but I will get it, and report what I discover when I do.

For some reason, a moderator in a wheelchair cut Hugh Kruzel off from an opportunity to address the amalgamation issue, which she should not have done, as Mr. Kruzel, despite being late, at least had shown up to the meeting on a very blustery November evening, taking precious time away from his family to do so.

Mr. Kruzel took the rude rebuff in his stride, however, exhibiting his typical noble reserve and patient manner.

That same moderator also cut me off from an opportunity to pose the final question to Paul Brown and Rose Henry on the matter of so-called ‘harm reduction’.

As for the whole issue of homelessness, again, it should be noted that the evening was put on by an activist group, and I get them all confused, but bascially I think that this is the one, with writer Alison Acker listed as the contact person, that doesn’t get the real money, as they had to pass the hat to pay for the rental of the Presbyterian Hall.

I met only one person who said that he was homeless, and he didn’t seem to have much good to say for the crowd that was there, saying ‘where are the homeless?’

He also thought the high taxes of as much as 12 – 16% that might be imposed by Dino ‘the destroyer’ Fortino to pay for a new bridge would hurt the homeless as landlords would just raise rents to make the extra money needed to pay the high taxes, thus the new bridge would very likely aggravate the homelessness problem in Victoria.

I share that concern with that poor man.

I spoke with another Candidate outside who also thought that the meeting was too tightly controlled, was straying way off the supposed topic of the night, and was basically a waste of his time.



It sure did stray off that topic, as one last item comes to mind: which Councillors support keeping the rail link on any kind of bridge built where the present rail link now is, that is to say, on Johnson Street Bridge?

It was a kind of trick question, I think, designed by some man to trip up the only Councillor Candidate vulnerable on the matter, Marianne Alto.

Remarkably, every one of them, including Marianne Alto, nodded their heads or put their hand up to show support for a rail link, saying it was important to maintain one either on a new or refurbished bridge.

That contradicts the plans of her favourite Mayor, because he is trying ‘to save $12,000,000 of Victoria taxpayers’ money’ by jettisoning the rail link unless those other unco-operative tight-wad municpalities in the 13 goverment CRD see fit to do so.

So, we come full circle back to the conundrum of the evening, the ‘Talkin’ 80 Year Old Victoria Amalgamation Blues’.

If amalgamation was already in place, Mr. Fortino’s plans might just be a little bit more easy to impose and enforce.

As it stands, I appreciate our increasing sense of citizen empowerment, thanks to the great efforts of, the group most directly responsible for the upcoming referendum, but not its problematically worded trick question.

If the YES vote fails, as I am quite confident that it will, by a margin of about 70% NO to 30% YES, Mr. Fortino will certainly have to ditch his bridge-building fetish, and start paying more attention to the poor again, and again, and again, until the problem of homelessness in Victoria is finally solved, once and for all.

Otherwise, should he try to ram the bridge down our throats anyway, by hook or by crook, he will likely be out on the street himself, looking for new work, after the 2011 election… like the homeless he often tries to ignore.

Gregory Paul Michael Hartnell



4 Responses to TALKIN’ 80 YEAR OLD VICTORIA AMALGAMATION BLUES AT THE OLD ST. ANDREW’S KIRK HALL: True homeless people in short supply at ‘Homelessness’ All Candidates’ Meeting

  1. Guy Posting From Our Place says:

    Hi, I’m a homeless dude who showed up very late to the meeting, you may have seen me, I spoke with Paul Brown and Barry Hobbis after the event.

    Let me guess (I only scanned your article): this meeting about homelessness had few if any actual homeless people and a bunch of Marxists fronting as homeless advocates talking about needle exchanges, taxspending, needle exchanges, how all cops are bastards, needle exchanges, and indigenous issues. Amirite? OK, I read the whole article, yep, the meeting was baloney, this committee cares not a whit about homelessness but rather their own Marxist agenda.

    The committee to end homelessness is, in my opinion, a borderline terrorist organization (given their comments which seemed to condone the attack on the mayor) and all candidates who showed up at that meeting should have used better judgment.

    Paul Brown described himself as “liberal” on social issues when I spoke with him and I’d be surprised if he did not support “harm” “reduction”, FYI.

    I came to Victoria from a recently amalgamated city back east. Ontario talked about amalgamation for decades; when Mike Harris came in he gave them 90 days to come up with a plan, hired Glen Shortliffe, ex Clerk of the Privy Council to do it, and they got it done. It has mostly been a success, there is some friction between rural and urban of course. There is one thing: Having one big police force rather than several forces might be a problem, and I understand that in Victoria and BC the push is to go the other way. Downtown cops are used to dealing with a rough crowd and the new super force adopts the procedures of the downtown force even in the suburbs.

    Interesting blog you have here, I can’t quite figure your angle. I’ll check it out again.

  2. goyodelarosa says:

    Thanks for your comments, Guy, and I certainly hope that you do revisit our GPMH blog, where you are free to comment on your present predicament.

    I hope that you agree with Susan Woods, Hugh Kruzel and I that needles given to active addicts is bad social health policy.

    If you are going to vote, may I suggest you vote NO, to ensure more City of Victoria attention goes to solving homelessness rather than to a new bridge, and vote for either of these fine candidates, but preferably Susan who I believe actually can beat both the Marxist Marianne Alto and the Liberal Mayor Cross-annointed businessman Barry Hobbis.

  3. albe says:

    I am persuaded, i’ll vote Susan woods, hope she prevails.The reasons are that the agenda that includes assisting addicts to continue their crime, is a shame, the addicts need direction and abstinence or some such attention by trained experts not an ever ending short horizon to a grisly end. Also if not by fiat , amalgamation might improve the possibilities of savings ,the taxpayer could appreciate, less town halls , less friction ,a more overall view, why is number one highway always at a stand still is the timing of the traffic lights? a study brought forward to calm the traffic on Douglas by cutting out a traffic lane is ,that’s good? a bus way that is space taken on land for a few buses that don’t run 24 / 7. Less outside payments for studies
    Can’t believe that Hobbis and Alto do not live in Victoria but commute, hoot mon.

  4. goyodelarosa says:

    The very scandalous issue of these two interloping Saanich resident candidates’ giving advice to Victoria voters in the upcoming referendum, when the Municipality of Saanich is not helping pay for the new proposed expensive replacement to the present Joseph Strauss-designed Johnson Street Bridge is also germane to this whole discussion.

    This hypocrital contradiction rubs many people the wrong way, and I am grateful that you have commented here today, Albe, and would encourage you to comment again, as you may encourage others who know and respect your own opinion, in doing so, to also vote for Susan Woods.

    I have just put one of Susan Woods’ signs in the most prominent window in our home at 1357 Rockland Avenue near Royal Terrace in Victoria, so now all our neighbours know where we stand, and I have also convinced one of my sisters who lives in Victoria on Arnold Street (the other two are not residents here) to vote for Susan Woods and to also display one of her signs in her window.

    My aunt who I caught just in time before she went to an advance poll almost made the horrible mistake of voting for Marianne Alto, not being fully informed about her unsuitability for office, but after I carefully explained to her, after Mass at Saint Patrick’s Church, all the reasons why a vote for Marianne Alto would be such an ethically questionable and perhaps even sinful thing for a pro life Catholic to do, this wonderful woman who married my mother’s brother, an energetic Catholic pro-life nurse in recovery, voted instead in an advanced poll for Susan Woods!

    So, now, of course, I hope that these little anecdotes will inspire other common sense people like yourself to get the message out, be very public about your support for Susan Woods, be courageous in your moderate advocacy of a more holistic programme of abstinence-based recovery for addicts and alcoholics who want to break free of the slavery of active addiction.

    A wasted vote for Saanich resident Marianne Alto, a fanatical proponent of so-called ‘harm reduction’ who would expand the distribution of needles, condoms and crack pipes to active addicts and prostitutes, an NDP-CUPE so-called ‘businessperson’ without a valid business licence in that municipality who would presume to dictate to Victorians what to do about our own heritage bridge which is still working fine after more than 80 years of withstanding mild tremors, such a waste of a good opportunity to vote would be to perpetuate and give approval to a ridiculous abuse and an ethical contradiction and would also be a very serious mistake for any conservative, pro-life, traditional, heritage protectionist, or conservationist Christian voter in Victoria to indulge, whereas a vote for the common sense Fairfield resident Candidate, Woman of Distinction, Hallmark Heritage Preservation Award winner, opponent of so-called ‘harm reduction,’ fiscal-social moderate conservative Susan Woods, endorsed by former Alderman Professor Martin Segger, is quite simply, the best, most prudent and ethically correct vote to cast in this byelection.


    Gregory Paul Michael Hartnell, President
    Concerned Citizens’ Coalition

    Editor of these fine Victoria websites:
    GPMH (formerly CCC BLOG):
    LA ROSA:
    LA ROSA:

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